William Bledsoe

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William Harrison Bledsoe

Texas State Senator for District 29
(49 counties: Archer, Armstrong, Bailey, Baylor, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Childress, Clay, Cochran, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Dickens, Donley, Floyd, Foard, Gray, Hale, Hall, Hansford, Hardeman, Hartley, Hemphill, Hockley, Hutchinson, Jack, King, Knox, Lamb, Lipscomb, Lubbock, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Throckmorton, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, and Young)​
In office
July 17, 1919​ – January 13, 1925​
Preceded by William S. Bell​
Succeeded by Benjamin Franklin Berkeley​

Texas State Senator for District 30
(24 counties: Andrews, Bailey, Borden, Cochran, Cottle, Crosby, Dawson, Dickens, Floyd, Gaines, Garza, Hale, Hockley, Howard, Kent, King, Lamb, Lubbock, Lynn, Martin, Motley, Stonewall, Terry, and Yoakum)​
In office
July 13, 1925​ – January 8, 1929​
Preceded by Robert A. Stuart​
Succeeded by Pink L. Parrish​

Texas State Senate
President pro tempore​
In office
1925​ – 1927​
Preceded by Alvin J. Wirtz​
Succeeded by James G. Strong​

Texas State Representative for
District 122 (13 counties: Andrews, Borden, Briscoe, Cochran, Crosby, Dawson, Gaines, Garza, Hockley, Lubbock, Lynn, Terry, and Yoakum counties)​
In office
October 9, 1915​ – July 17, 1919​
Preceded by Don H. Biggers​
Succeeded by Roy Alvin Baldwin

Born December 23, 1869
Cleburne, Johnson County, Texas
Died March 30, 1936 (aged 66)
Resting place Lubbock City Cemetery​
Political party Democrat​​
Spouse(s) (1) Alice Eugenia Collins Bledsoe​ (married 1895-1915, her death)

(2) Emma K. Boone Bledsoe (married c. 1920-1936, his death)

Children 'From first marriage:

William Scott Bledsoe
Alice Bledsoe Lee
Lois Glenna Bledsoe
From second marriage:
Willis Harrison Bledsoe Parents:
Willis Scott and Susan Frances Harrison Bledsoe​

Residence Lubbock, Texas​
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin

Self-educated in the law​

Occupation Attorney; Businessman

William Harrison Bledsoe, also known as W. H. Bledsoe (December 23, 1869 – March 30, 1936), was an attorney and businessman from Lubbock, Texas, who served as a Democrat from 1915 to 1929 in both houses, consecutively, of the Texas legislature. In 1923, as a state senator for District 29, which encompassed a large geographic portion of West Texas, he co-authored legislation to establish what became Texas Tech University.​


Bledsoe was born in Cleburne in Johnson County south of Fort Worth, the fifth of six children of Willis Scott Bledsoe (1837–1877), a Democratic member of the Texas House for District 23 with service from 1873 to 1874.[1] His mother, the former Susan Frances Harrison (1840-1909), a native of Overton County, Tennessee, and known as Sue F. Bledsoe,[2] was widowed when William was eight years of age; his oldest living sibling, a sister, Nellie Bledsoe Templeton (1864–1941), was then thirteen. His younger brother, Albert Sydney Bledsoe (1871–1913), was born and died in Cleburne and was married to the former Nettie McQueen.[3]

Bledsoe was twice married. In 1895, he wed the former Alice Eugenia Collins (1872-1915), the mother of three of his four children: William Scott Bledsoe (1896-1975), Alice Bledsoe Lee (1898-1944), and Lois Glenna Bledsoe (1904-1915). From his second marriage to the former Emma K. Boone (1888-1983), who bore him another son, Willis Harrison Bledsoe (1921-1989).[3]

Political life

​ After brief study at the University of Texas at Austin, Bledsoe was admitted in 1890 to the State Bar of Texas, based on his independent preparation. He returned to Cleburne to practice law but relocated eighteen years later to Lubbock in 1908 in search of opportunities on the South Plains. He founded the Lubbock law firm, Bledsoe, Crenshaw and Dupree, later known as Crenshaw, Dupree and Milam. He worked to establish the South Plains Bar Association, was city attorney in Lubbock and a member of the local school board.[3]

Bledsoe won a special election for state representative in House District 122 held on October 9, 1915, to schoose a successor to Representative Don H. Biggers, who resigned the seat.[1] A story circulated that Bledsoe was out of town at the time of filing for the special election, and a handful of civic leaders placed his name in the Democratic primary election.[3] On July 14, 1919, he won another special election in Senate District 29 to succeed William S. Bell, who died in office. He remained in District 29 from 1919 to 1925, when he began to represent Senate District 30 for four more years until 1929.[1]

Representative Bledsoe chaired the House committee which in 1917 investigated Governor James Edward "Jim" Ferguson, Jr. (1871-1944), who was impeached[3] by the full House and convicted in the state Senate for misapplication of public funds and receiving $156,000 from an unnamed source.[4] He also headed a committee that supervised the reform of the Texas Ranger Division.[3]​ ​ In 1917, a bill to establish an A&M college for West Texas passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Ferguson. A committee chaired by the governor was named to conduct the site selection. Ferguson announced the selection of Abilene, but he had rigged the results. Mrs. Bledsoe, first and maiden names missing, said that her husband called for Ferguson's impeachment while seated next to the governor. The Abilene college selection was struck down.[3]

Establishing Texas Tech University

​ The West Texas Chamber of Commerce supported legislation passed by both houses of the legislature in 1921 to establish a West Texas A&M College. The bill was vetoed by Governor Pat Morris Neff (1871-1952), who said that the state could not afford another state college. Neff also defended his veto on grounds that the proposed college was not included in the 1920 Democratic state platform. Neff's veto stirred up a political firestorm; two years later he was prepared to sign similar legislation.[3]

In 1923, Bledsoe and Representative Roy Alvin Baldwin of Slaton in south Lubbock County pushed to passage the legislation (Senate Bill 103) with a $1 million appropriation to establish a four-year institution in West Texas with an emphasis on agricultural research. The school would be separate from Texas A&M University in College Station, which had a similar mission and whose leadership opposed the new institution. Bledsoe confessed to having drawn up the requirements for the host city to fit only Lubbock, which was selected over thirty-six other locations, including Sweetwater in Nolan County, San Angelo (before the existence of Angelo State University), Midland, Plainview in Hale County, Brownwood, Lampasas, Big Spring, Boerne (pronounced BUR NEY) in Kendall County northwest of San Antonio. Vernon, Texas, west of Wichita Falls claimed it should have been selected because of its railroad access; at the time Vernon had approximately one thousand more people than Lubbock. [5]

The site selection committee traveled to all of the communities seeking to become the location of the new college, but the fix was in from the start. To win the competition, Lubbock was even allowed to amend its initial application to account for eighty more acres so that it could meet the two thousand acres required in the legislation for the chosen location. In time, Texas Tech University, originally Texas Technological College, helped to make Lubbock the largest city of West Texas, excluding El Paso in the far southwestern corner of the state. Representative Richard Chitwood of Sweetwater, the chairman of the House Education Committee, thought his city far better suited for the new institution as the "central" location of West Texas. When Lubbock was chosen, Chitwood was given a patronage consolation as business manager of the new institution.[5] He moved to Lubbock, where for fifteen months he was the business manager.[6]

From 1925 to 1927, in the 39th legislative session, Bledsoe was the Senate President pro tempore in the administration of Governor Miriam Amanda Wallace Ferguson (1875-1951), wife of former Governor Jim Ferguson. In 1927, Bledsoe was injured in an automobile accident. On retirement, he attributed the location of Texas Tech to the work of the citizens of the South Plains and Lubbock County.[3]

Death and legacy

Bledsoe died in the early spring of 1936 at the age of sixty-six. He is interred at Lubbock City Cemetery. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal voted Bledsoe the eighth most influential Lubbock residents of the 20th century. His grave markers carries this inscription: "Because of his life, future generations have an inheritance that cannot be bought with a price."[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 William Harrison Bledsoe. Texas Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved on May 31, 2020.
  2. Susan Francis Harrison Bledsoe. findagrave.com. Retrieved on May 31, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 David Sifford (September 9, 2003). William Harrison Bledsoe. findagrave.com. Retrieved on May 31, 2020.
  4. Ralph W. Steen. Ferguson, James Edward. Texas State Historical Association: The Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved on May 31, 2020.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Zach Dowdle, "In the Land of Sandstorms and Sand: Locating Texas Technological College in 1923," West Texas Historical Review, Vol. LXL (2014), pp. 75-102.
  6. Richard Mortimer Chitwood. findagrave.com. Retrieved on May 31, 2020.